Ninety per cent of employers in the United States have been negatively impacted by tired employees, according to new research from the National Safety Council (NSC). The council also found that 43 per cent of employees admit they may be too tired to function safely at work.
As fatigue becomes an increasingly common workplace hazard, the NSC is calling on all employers to implement a fatigue risk management system. The system should blend employee education and training with improvements to workplace environments, culture change and data-driven programs.
Roughly 13 per cent of workplace injuries in the U.S. are attributable to sleep problems.
“In our 24/7 world, too many employees are running on empty,” said Emily Whitcomb, senior program manager for fatigue initiatives at NSC. “Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, and addressing fatigue in workplaces will help eliminate preventable deaths and injuries.”
Fatigue not only hurts employees’ wellbeing and safety, but it also carries a significant price tag, said the NSC. An employer with 1,000 employees can expect to lose more than US$1 million each year in missed workdays, lower productivity and increased health care due to employee fatigue.
“Even employers with state-of-the-art safety programs feel the negative effects of fatigue,” said John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute.
Workplace practices and policies that contribute to worker fatigue include working night shifts and overtime, a lack of time off between shifts and inadequate rest areas within the workplace for employees to take breaks.